Book Review: The Union and the World, the Politcal Economy of a Common European Foreign Policy

5 Colum. J. Eur. L. 167 (1998)

Alan Cafruny.
Patrick Peters.

The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1998. 310 pages.

Given its economic position in the global economy, the voice of the European Union is not heard loudly enough in the sphere of foreign policy. That is at least what Alan Cafruny and Patrick Peters claim in their book The Union and the World: The Political Economy of a Common European Foreign Policy. Although produced without formal support from the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy, the book is a collection of essays mainly by scholars connected to the EUI, but the list of contributors also includes a practicing lawyer, a European Parliament Administrator and an employee of the German Bundesbank, as well as other unaffiliated economists and legal and political scientists.

Cafruny and Peters describe themselves as neither Euro-phile nor Euro-skeptic. The contributors to the book were simply charged with assessing to what extent there is a communitarian foreign policy and how it affects the world. The editors certainly succeed at presenting a book that offers insightful case studies addressing the question of a communitarian European foreign policy without a pervasive bias on either side. However, due to the rather broad definition of “European Foreign Policy” in some chapters, the reader is left wondering whether “European” refers to foreign policy emanating from the constituent bodies of the EU or foreign policy as promulgated by the individual member states.

The commendable element of the editors’ inclusive definition of the term “European Foreign Policy” is that it enables the book to shed some light on aspects of EU foreign policymaking that otherwise often escape the view of most scholars. The first step towards achieving this goal is that Cafruny and Peters differentiate between decisional and structural foreign policy. In other words, the analysis presented in The Union and the World goes beyond merely looking at the formal efforts under the EU’s second pillar but also includes an in-depth investigation of the foreign policy ramifications of EU structures whose primary focus is actually the Common Market. Moreover, the analysis includes accession and adhesion agreements with third countries as foreign policy tools and even dissects the international impact of ECJ decisions.

A particularly interesting and welcome piece is the chapter by Patrick Peters on the dynamics, conflicts and interactions among the members of the Commission. While he concedes that there is no de jure foreign policy-making by the Commission, he argues that de facto the Commission has’ quite a strong foreign policy agenda. Peters renders a very detailed picture of the internal workings of the European Commission and how the personalities and political opinions of the individual Commissioners influence EU policymaking. Especially noteworthy is his portrayal of Sir Leon Brittan’s monopolization of various foreign policy issues outside of his usual portfolio. By individually analyzing all of the important EU Commissioners and their impact on the Commission’s agenda, Peters seeks to provide an alternative to the common focus on the unitary foreign policy-maker so pervasive in contemporary FPA theory. This theoretical approach is particularly justified in this case, due to the fact that the Commission does not fully enjoy all of the powers of a true executive branch.

Thus, its policymaking is more of a sum of the input of various individuals representing the Member States rather than the singular unified voice of Europe.

Michael Leigh’s chapter on EU enlargement presents accession and adhesion negotiations with third countries as one of the EU’s strongest foreign policy tools. He argues that the prospective reward of EU membership has given the EU exceptional leverage in shaping the political economy of Eastern Europe. In fact, Eastern Europe has already implemented many aspects of the acquis communautaire. Indeed, Leigh argues that EU involvement in Eastern Europe has been able to revive old lines of regional cooperation among Eastern European states that had all but collapsed with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. As Leigh puts it, by “tailoring PHARE and TACIS [programs] to promote regional cooperation, the Commission is helping to foster a sense of common interests in the region. This expansion of a European network of interdependence has, in his view, fostered the cause of peace and stability in\ Europe and is directly attributable to the efforts of the EU.

Some of the following chapters exhibit the weaknesses of the editors delineation of the scope of the book, and either turn out to be somewhat reduplicative of the efforts of other contributions or tend to have a rathertenuous relation to the topic of common European foreign policy. Federiga M. Bindi Calussi’s chapter entitled “The Cost of Staying out of the European Union,” for example, while providing an excellent analysis of foreign entities lobbying the EU, does not quite seem to answer the question “is there a common European foreign policy?,” and to some extent repeats Michael Leigh’s work in the subsection on Eastern Europe. Similarly, Bernhard Winkler’s chapter on the political economy of the EMU is not differentiated enough from Amy Verdun’s preceding chapter on the international aspects of European exchange rate policy to prevent some repetitions. Sandrine Labory’s chapter on the European car industry seems more appropriately located in a book on European industrial policy.

The efforts of other authors are marred by the general confusion about the source of European foreign policy that pervades the entire issue. In Thomas Grunert’s otherwise excellent summary of the EU’s efforts to date in the area of Common Security Policy, the reader is often left wondering whether the foreign policy actor in question really is the EU or (more likely) the WEU, NATO, the individual member states, or even the United States. Similar questions arise while reading Sandra Lavenex’s chapter on European immigration and refugee policy. Christopher J. Smith’s and Kaisa Lahteenmaki’s chapter on relations with the Maghreb, on the other hand, seems to somewhat underplay the role of France in using EU institutions to achieve its own policy goals. Not to be too critical, all these chapter are based on solid research and are well argued. Their problems stem more from a lack of focus of the overarching theme of the book.

Alan Cafruny’s own contribution to this volume is a chapter on the EU’s failure to establish a foreign policy consensus to stop the war in Bosnia. Cafruny rejects the argument that Germany’s singlehanded push to recognize Slovenia and Croatia, completely ignoring the Badinter Commission, accelerated the path towards war in Bosnia and scuttled the efforts of a Common European Foreign Policy. Rather, he argues, it was the refusal of Great Britain and France to join Germany’s proactive stance and their failure to differentiate between aggressor and victim that made a collective European foreign policy impossible. This argument is somewhat surprising. After all, it was Germany that was being chastised (albeit not very openly) by the EU and in particular by France and the UK for completely overriding EU procedures and thereby embarrassing European Security Policy just after Jacques Poos had exclaimed, “This is the hour of Europe. It is not the hour of the Americans.” This was the time when, aside from the irrelevant Serbian propaganda Cafruny refers to, the Western European media was full of skeptical, even worried analyses of the new, more assertive foreign policy of a unified Germany under Hans-Dietrich Genscher. This fear was exacerbated by the pivotal role Germany continues to play in the eastward expansion of the EU.

The recognition of Croatia and Slovenia fueled the camps of those who believed that a German hegemony over the EU was inevitable and the cause of

CFSP would be forever scuttled. In fact, everybody involved except the Germans, including the Dutch President of the Council, Hans van den Broek, and British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, vehemently opposed recognition. The feeling of the time was that Germany blackmailed Europe into recognition, because nobody was willing to risk the dissolution of the EU over Croatia and SloveniaZ In this light, Cafruny’s pro-German argument will not win many supporters among the champions of CFSP in France and the UK.

The war in Bosnia showed more than ever Europe’s dependence on the United  States, Cafruny continues. He further commends Germany’s recognition of  Croatia and Slovenia for internationalizing the conflict and thereby making UN intervention possible. Cafruny claims that Bosnia showed the limits of CFSP, which stem largely from a “lack of will” to defend human rights against atrocious war crimes. Again, there is the question of who is the foreign policy actor in this case. Even among supposedly unitary nation-states, political discord among equally powerful actors will create foreign policy paralysis. Therefore, to argue that Bosnia showed a “lack of will” among EU members, or even dependence on the US, seems a bit excessive. If anything, Bosnia shows the “lack of will” of the Kohl government to work for a European consensus where Germany’s interests are at odds with those of the EU. Perhaps on this issue (rather than EMU and Industrial Policy) a second article by an author of different political persuasion would have been appropriate to balance Cafruny’s analysis.

Regarding the EMU, both Amy Verdun and Bernhard Winkler recognize the EMU and previous currency exchange mechanisms as a true collective European foreign policy tool that allows Europe to react to the effects of globalization. Verdun calls it a “European solution to global challenges.” Both authors air healthy skepticism as to whether Europe will be able to stand unitedly behind its new single currency, a necessary prerequisite for the Euro to inherit the stability of the Deutsche Mark.

Of interest in the further chapters are commendable analyses of the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy on the international economy of food, as well as the international effect of such heated issues as the EU banana import regulations. Particularly interesting for legal scholars will also be Sabrina Tesoka’s chapter on judicial politics and EC external trade relations. She identifies such decisions as the ECJ’s refusal to grant direct effect to GAIT and WTO norms as EU foreign policymaking by the judicial branch.

In the end, Cafruny and Peters argue, the case studies show that even where the Member States are the motors of foreign policy, the EU institutions do matter. This will continue to be the case for a while, as the Amsterdam IGC has put CFSP on the back burner, deciding to focus instead on the EMU. All in all, despite a sometimes bumpy read due to some understandable, though distracting, incongruities between the focus of the collection as a whole and the focus of individual essays, this is a very useful book. Readers will find many thought- provoking ideas that will cause them to redefine their concept of Common European Foreign Policy. As for the essays that escape the true scope of the book, they too are valuable. It is just questionable whether those seeking to read them will suspect to find them in a book on Common European Foreign Policy.